“What I would really like said about me is
that I dared to love.
By love I mean that condition in the human spirit
so profound it encourages us
to develop courage and build bridges,
and then to trust those bridges
and cross the bridges
in attempts to reach other human beings.”
– Maya Angelou in an interview 1985
The charismatic African American author, poet and activist certainly succeeded. Her energetic being along with her lyrical voice and beaming smile made her an eloquent advocate of human rights and humanity. Maya Angelou’s work became an inspiration for people from all walks of life and her powerful words reached an audience all over the world. She was active in the Civil Rights movement, worked with Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcom X, continued to give plenty of lectures and became a respected spokesperson for the black people of her generation.
Poems & politics
When Nelson Mandela passed away at the end of last year, Maya Angelou wrote the tribute poem “His Day Is Done“ dedicated to the legacy of Madiba’s milestones. It is said that Mandela read Angelou’s books while imprisoned at Robben Island and also recited her poem “Still I Rise“ at his presidential inauguration in 1994.
Another work has been staged a year earlier, when Angelou read aloud her poem “On the Pulse of Morning“ at President Bill Clinton’s inauguration in 1993, a plea for hope and human spirit.
A wealth of wisdom
Sadly, the remarkable life story of Maya Angelou reached its final chapter. On the morning of May 28 the she quietly passed away in her home, aged 86. Her family described her as “a warrior for equality, tolerance and peace”, US President Barack Obama hailed her as “one of the brightest lights of our time”, former president Bill Clinton remarked “The poems and stories she wrote and read to us in her commanding voice were gifts of wisdom and wit, courage and grace” and civil rights campaigner Reverend Jesse Jackson wrote “The renaissance woman has made a peaceful transition. She acted, sang, danced & taught She used poetry as a road for peace.”
Here are a few more of her captivating words outlining the human spirit she believed in:
“Be present in all things and thankful for all things.”
“If you don’t like something, change it.
If you can’t change it, change your attitude.
“You may not control all the events that happen to you,
but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”
“I’ve learned that no matter what happens,
or how bad it seems today,
life does go on,
and it will be better tomorrow.
I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person
by the way he/she handles these three things:
a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.
I’ve learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents,
you’ll miss them when they’re gone from your life.
I’ve learned that making a “living” is not the same thing as making a “life.”
I’ve learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance.
I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands;
you need to be able to throw something back.
I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart,
I usually make the right decision.
I’ve learned that even when I have pains,
I don’t have to be one.
I’ve learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone.
People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back.
I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn.
I’ve learned that people will forget what you said,
people will forget what you did,
but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive;
and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.”
“It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive.
“The desire to reach the stars is ambitious.
The desire to reach hearts is wise and most possible.”
“We have to confront ourselves.
Do we like what we see in the mirror?
And, according to our light,
according to our understanding,
according to our courage,
we will have to say yea or nay — and rise!”
“I’ve always had the feeling
that life loves the liver of it.
You must live
and life will be good to you,
give you experiences.
They may not all be that pleasant,
but nobody promised you a rose garden.
But more than likely if you do dare,
what you get are the marvelous returns.
Courage is probably the most important of the virtues,
because without courage
you cannot practice any of the other virtues.”
“Every human being has paid the earth to grow up.
Most people don’t grow up.
It’s too damn difficult.
What happens is most people get older.
That’s the truth of it.
They honor their credit cards,
they find parking spaces,
they have the nerve to have children,
but they don’t grow up.
They get older.
But to grow up costs the earth, the earth.
It means you take responsibility
for the time you take up,
for the space you occupy.
It’s serious business.
And you find out what it costs us
to love and to lose,
to dare and to fail.
And maybe even more,
What it costs, in truth.
Not superficial costs
—anybody can have that—
I mean in truth.
That’s what I write.
What it really is like.
I’m just telling a very simple story.”
Hægt, kemur ljósið (Slowly, comes the light) ~ Ólafur Arnalds
September 30, 2014
Made by Hand ~ [No. 5] The Bike Maker
August 5, 2014
In South America ~ Vincent Urban
June 5, 2014
I know it’s been a while (too long!) and I wanted to wish you a happy new year, my friend! 🙂
Peace and joy to you!
Oh dear, it has been ages indeed … Thank you so much for your lovely reminder and your kind words!
Allison, I wish you the very same! I hope the new year started promising for you and that it will be (another) one brimming with laughter, joy and happiness, inspiring encounters, creative flow magic moments and love. Take care and “see you” soon… 🙂